First Day

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"It's going to be a long day," I said through a breath as I placed a textbook on each desk, each of them having a certain set of pages ripped out. I had a mixed group of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff third years first thing in the morning followed by a planning period. After lunch, I had sixth years from Gryffindors and Slytherins followed by more Gryffindors and Slytherins who were in the 4th year. I only had each class once a week as I was teaching every single year of every single house, and this worried me a little bit. But I also had to remind myself that I was only going to be here for one school year, so they weren't going to learn much anyway, maybe just a few simple transmutations.

Grabbing a piece of chalk off the tray on the black board, I wrote "ALL IS ONE, AND ONE IS ALL." As this was my first assignment, this was going to be theirs as well. But, I figured I wouldn't be allowed to leave them all stranded on an island by themselves, no matter how much I would probably want to by the end of the week.

Just then, there was a knock on the doorframe to the classroom. I looked over to see a few frightened third years standing in the doorway. "Well don't just stand there!" I called. "Come on in and find a seat," I directed. With a sigh, I hefted myself up onto my desk, my flesh leg crossed over my metal one as I waited for everyone to file and find their seats. I noticed as everyone sat down that the ones in blue, the Ravenclaws, and the ones in yellow, the Hufflepuffs, had separated themselves to different sides of the room.

As soon as the bells chimed for the beginning of the period, I sighed and took out the list of students who were supposed to be in my first period class. "When I call your name, please just say 'here' so we can get our class underway," I directed. No one said a word, so I took that as my cue to start. I went down the list, and I found everyone to be present. "Yes?" I said, inclining my head to a brunette Ravenclaw boy in the front row.

"Uh, Professor Elric?" he said nervously. "H-how old are you, if you don't mind me asking," he said but immediately looked like he regretted even saying anything. I sighed and uncrossed my legs before crossing them the other way. I was waiting for this question to pop up, I just didn't think it would come this soon.

"I'm 17," I said simply. The class immediately erupted into whispers. "Alright, alright," I said as I held up a hand. "That's enough." The class quieted. "My age has nothing to do with how well I can do my job or how well I know alchemy," I said sternly. "Now, to begin this class, you will need to answer this simple riddle," I said, turning to point at the board behind me. "All is one, and one is all. You will have exactly one month to answer the riddle. If you can't, this class will become a study hall, and you will not be permitted to learn alchemy." The class erupted into conversation again. I groaned and leaned my head back. We were never going to get anywhere if they kept talking.

"Enough!" I called. "This is my class, and I will run it the way I want to. Alchemy is a dangerous art, and if you don't understand every single principle, and this riddle," I said, pointing back at the board, "you could hurt yourself, someone else, or even wind up with someone dead, so I suggest you close your mouths and open your ears," I snapped. That seemed to grab their attention.

"Thank you. Now, as I was saying, you have exactly one month to figure this out. You can't help each other, you can;t share your answer if you don't get it right. If I found out that anyone has been helping each other, you'll be removed from the class. Is that understood?" I asked, scanning the class to see if anyone was going to argue. One person did raise their hand, albeit timidly. "What?" I asked, crossing my arms over my chest, daring them to argue with me.

"I don't mean to be disrespectful, sir," the girl with the Hufflepuff crest of her robes began, "but why do you have to understand this riddle? What role does it play in alchemy?"

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